The Holden Team | Hopkinton Real Estate, Southborough Real Estate, Ashland Real Estate

Growing your own vegetables is a wonderful thing. You get to choose which seeds to sow, spend time outside, put in some hard work and then reap the rewards all summer and fall. In spite of this, many new gardeners find themselves planting too much or too little of different vegetables. There's much appeal to going to the store to pick out seeds. It almost seems like magic: these little seed packets will turn into baskets full of food, all for just a few dollars. Follow these tips to learn how to grow what you want the first time around so you won't find yourself begging neighbors to take all those extra zucchinis off your hands. What do you like to eat? Experimenting with new recipes is great. And so is the temptation when you see seed packets for an exotic vegetable you've never tried before. But before you dedicate a whole row of your garden to hybrid turnips, think about whether or not you'll really eat all of that. Instead, plant the veggies you and your family love to eat consistently. Before you start planting, think carefully about the amount of space you have in your garden (I usually draw a diagram and label the rows). This is going to involve some necessary research on your part. If you love summer squash, you may think you need a whole row. Squash plants, however, tend to creep outwards vigorously, producing a ton of fruit and also encroaching on other rows if you're not careful. Similarly, you may find that you simply don't have enough room for some vegetables. We all love the first sweet corn of the season, but most of us don't have enough room in our backyard gardens to feasibly grow corn. Plan for next year Once you've tilled the soil, planted the seeds, and taken care of your plants all spring, you may think the only thing left to do is harvest the vegetables. This is a crucial time, however, to think about next year. What did you have too much of? Too little? Did you find that some vegetables simply wouldn't grow in your garden? (I tried twice, with little luck, to plant pole beans but found that they just didn't like my soil.) Take note of these findings for next year. If one part of your garden receives more sunlight, try rotating crops to see if you get different results. Don't worry if your garden isn't perfect the first time around. In fact, it's best to just let go of that image of the perfect garden. Tending a garden isn't another chore to cause stress in your life, it's a simple and relaxing way to get outside more.  

You generally pay taxes year round. Unless you’re taking advantage of a special deal, you pay taxes with each purchase that you make. Taxes are added onto your cable and utility bills. And, of course, taxes are deducted from your income.

You pay enough taxes, start saving with home office deductions

Work out of a home office as a small business owner and you could be responsible for reporting and paying business sales tax. Another situation when you’ll pay taxes if you work out of a home office is if you work as an independent contractor. Generally, clients won’t deduct income taxes from payments that they make to you.

In addition to paying income tax, as an independent contractor, you are responsible for paying Medicare and Social Security taxes. These taxes are typically paid to the IRS once a quarter. The start of the year is a time when you can take home office deductions, saving yourself from paying more taxes.

Home office tax deductions you could qualify for

The type of home office tax deductions that you can take depend on the type of business that you operate out of your home. If you travel a lot as part of your business, create a log to track your mileage. Also, keep a list of client and prospect names for people you conduct dining business meetings with.

Here is a list of some home office tax deductions that you might be eligible for. As with any tax deduction, check with the IRS or an experienced and certified accountant before you take the deductions.

  • Mileage – You could deduct mileage that is related to business trips. Keep a log of each trip, including where you went and the reason for the trip (i.e. ABC client year end meeting).
  • Utilities – A portion of your home office utilities could qualify as a deduction
  • Rent or mortgage – If you use a part of your home solely for business purposes, you could receive a tax deduction for the space
  • Health insurance – As an independent contractor, you may pay for your own health insurance. You could deduct your health insurance premiums off your taxes
  • Marketing and advertising expenses – This includes online and offline marketing and advertising
  • Home office supplies – Computers, copiers,papers, etc. are types of home office supplies that you could deduct
  • Shipping and handling – Keep your postage receipts, as they could be deducted

Take the right home office tax deductions

Operating a successful home office business is not cheap. Marketing, advertising and product development expenses can run into hundreds or thousands of dollars a year. If your business has attracted lots of interest, you could spend a sizable portion of money on shipping and handling and customer service support.

Be a smart business owner and file home office deductions that you are legally eligible for. Doing so could keep you from paying hundreds or more in taxes that you don’t legally have to pay. Protect yourself by keeping copies of receipts,including business related entertainment expenses, for at least seven years.

Keep an electronic and a print copy. If you aren’t sure whether or not you qualify to take a home office tax deduction, check with a certified accountant, someone who has experience filing taxes for independent contractors or small business owners. The official IRS website is another great resource to use to learn which home office tax deductions you qualify for. It is at the official IRS website where you can also find and download reporting forms like the Schedule C.

Pictures tell remarkable stories of your family – decorative gold, silver and wood frames bordering color images of your children at play or you and your partner holding hands. Pictures add beauty to your home. They showcase the more important aspects of your life’s journey. These portraits also serve as reminders of the sweetest experiences you created with people you love.

How pictures could be destroying your walls

It’s no wonder that every room of your home has at least one portrait on the wall. But,there’s a downside to hanging pictures, even the most elaborate portraits. You know  what the drawback is. You just keep turning away from it.

Your pictures are destroying your walls. Each time you hang another picture, you put a new hole in a wall at your home. Some reasons why pictures put holes in walls are:

  • Frames are too heavy for the nail that they hangon. If frames outweigh the maximum support a nail is built to provide, theframe could rip a hole in to a wall.
  • Backings on picture frames have sharp edges that cut into your walls or that chip paint.
  • Nails that you hang pictures on are thick and leave large holes when you remove or replace pictures.
  • You hang different portraits, motivational slogans and paintings in the same area. Over time, several small holes have combined into one large hole in a wall.
  • To conceal holes that a nail or frame created,you paint damaged spots on walls. All this does is to make an off color marking on walls.

Tips to beautiful walls at home

Before youhang the first picture on your house walls consider these safety steps. They couldkeep your walls whole, appealing and strong. Most of these steps only require afew seconds of thought or effort.

  • Buy frames that come with the right nails and brackets. Take the guesswork out of which size nails to use.
  • Tap nails into walls instead of applying too much pressure. Use a small hammer to keep from puncturing holes in walls.
  • Hang pictures, calendars and holiday decorations on adhesive hangars. You can find these houseware products at convenience,department and hardware stores. Choose adhesive hangars that peel away from the wall without removing paint.
  • Place a stripe of cloth over the place on the wall where you want to hang a frame.
  • Fill and replace holes in walls after you remove picture frames, calendars and decorative paintings. Avoid hammering new decorations in a spot on the wall that already has a hole in it.
  • Limit the number of walls or places on your walls that you hang portraits.
  • Reach out to a contractor or an interior designer to hang heavy paintings and frames. Also, check to see if retailers and art shops that you buy heavy paintings from offer free installation services.

Family portraits and wood motivational quotes aren’t the only items that put holes in the walls of your home. Calendars and holiday greeting cards leave holes too. Consider hanging pictures, calendars and other decorative items with adhesive tape. Also, use the proper nails and brackets when hanging pictures. Doing so could help to keep your house walls healthy for years.

As a home seller, you want your house to spark interest among large groups of interested homebuyers. That way, you'll be better equipped to reap the benefits of a fast sale. Ensuring your home sells quickly, however, can be a time-consuming process. Fortunately, we're here to help you speed up the process of selling your home. Here are three tips that you can use to accelerate the home selling process: 1. Focus On Improving Your Home's Curb Appeal. What do homebuyers think when they see your house for the first time? Ultimately, your house's curb appeal can make a world of difference in the eyes of homebuyers and may help you speed up the process of finding prospective homebuyers as well. You don't need to break your budget to boost your house's curb appeal, either. In fact, simple home maintenance such as mowing your front lawn, pressure-washing the front walkway and even polishing the doorknob on your front door can help your house stand out to homebuyers. 2. Depersonalize Your Home. The photographs, antiques and treasured art that fill your home serve as wonderful decorations, but you should put these items in storage to depersonalize your residence while you sell your home. By doing so, you'll be able to ensure your personal items remains safe and can make it easier for homebuyers to envision what life could be like if they purchase your residence. Typically, homebuyers will evaluate the "potential" of your house during a home showing. And if your home is filled with personal items, it may become exceedingly difficult for homebuyers to imagine a future in which they buy your home. Dedicate the necessary time and resources to depersonalize your house before you add it to the real estate market. Because if you're able to depersonalize your residence as much as possible, you'll be better equipped to speed up the home selling process. 3. Employ a Friendly, Experienced Real Estate Agent. Selling a home can be tricky, but a friendly, experienced real estate agent will help you streamline the process of selling your house. Thus, this professional will ensure you're able to maximize the value of your home and improve your chances of a quick sale. For instance, a real estate agent can share information about your home with a broad array of homebuyers without delay. This professional also can provide homebuyers with high-quality photographs of your home and any other information they need to help them become more comfortable with submitting an offer on your house. Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent works for you and is ready to answer any of your concerns or questions. As such, your real estate agent serves as a dependable resource who can guide you through each step of the home selling process. When it comes to selling your residence, don't take any chances. Instead, use the aforementioned tips, and you'll be better equipped to generate significant interest in your house.

Social media, cell phones and hundreds of television channels may have brought the world closer, a whole lot closer. In fact, because of these devices, it only takes the click of a button to keep up with what’s going on in the world. It seems impossible to perceive of yourself as ever being alone with the constant connections. Yet, there are downsides to relying on technology to connect with another person, especially when it comes to community relationships.

Good neighbor relationships don’t happen on their own

It’s not just that rewarding neighborhood relationships help to strengthen trust inhumanity. It’s also not just that good neighborhood relationships give you a support network, people to contact should you need someone to look after your children.

There are health benefits to developing good relationships with your neighbors. Deeper human connections have been reported to ward off feelings of isolation and loneliness. By becoming friends with your neighbors, you also gift yourself with a positive feeling each time you see your neighbor.

You can also have someone to talk with should you deal with a personal or work related challenge. This can help to reduce stress as well as lower your chances of developing a stress related illness or disease. Also, if you have rewarding relationships with your neighbors, you can create incredibly loving, exciting and lasting memories that extend beyond your immediate family.

Steps to great neighbors

But, good neighbor relationships don’t just happen. Similar to rewarding relationships between colleagues, a spouse or beau, it takes effort to make a neighbor a friend. Because you live within close physical proximity of your neighbors, it won’t take mileage and transportation expenses to keep in touch.

What it will take is commitment, patience and understanding. A simple first step is to speak with your neighbors when you see them, even if it takes a few times before your neighbors take the initiative and speak to you first.

If your neighbors have children, encourage your kids to make friends with the youngsters. You could also form a neighborhood block party to kick in spring and bid farewell to summer.

When neighbors share information with you in confidence, keep the information to yourself. This means not telling anyone what was shared with you unless the information would put someone in danger. In that event, you may have no choice except to share the information with a professional.

This next tip goes beyond living with neighbors. Get in the habit of practicing active listening skills. For example, don’t interrupt your neighbors when they are speaking. Also, avoid framing your response to a question or comment that a neighbor shares with you while your neighbor is speaking. Active listening is a great way to build trust.

As you get to know your neighbors better, consider inviting them over to your house to enjoy a chat on the front porch. If your neighbors reciprocate, they should start to invite you over to their place as well. Right now, it may sound far fetched, but your neighbors could become among your very best friends if you put in the effort to get to know them better.

Even more good news is that it’s never too late to start to make the effort to become friends with your neighbors. It may be as simple as saying “hello” each time that you see your neighbor. Finding out what your neighbor’s name is also helps. So too does practicing active listening skills and valuing your neighbor’s ideas, opinions and thoughts.